internet, public relations

When does what "you" say interfere with who "YOU" are in PR?

Recently I (and quite a few other people) wrote about the recent Twitter-gate post of Ketchum VP James Andrews. As I’ve explained already, I thought it was a mistake, and if he had a problem with where he was, he should have given constructive criticism. However, he was there to share his knowledge of social media with FedEx employees and his Twitter post got turned upside down before the end of the day. It sucks, and he got a bit of the raw end of the media dished at him.

As usual there is more than one side to a story, and Mr. Andrews gives his side of it here. This is a learning exercise for all of us on the importance of counting to ten before speaking when angry (to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson), but as my fiancee says when I screw up, “No one died, move on.”

So we are moving on to a question that’s been bouncing around my mind for a while. When you’re working in public relations, where is the line between the “public YOU”, that is connected to your business or clients, and the “private you,” where you’re allowed to have personal opinions and viewpoints that might not always be sweet and nice but shouldn’t cost you your livelihood?

When I was working at a former gig, a memo floated down from on high, stating that we were not allowed to write anything for any electronic outlets, or we’d be fired. I was told this included blogs (hence the reason I blogged under a pseudonym for many years). Since I wasn’t a writer, I didn’t know if that applied to me, but as an employee, anything I wrote, even on my own time, appeared to be held to this standard. (in fact a friend of mine got suspended a couple of weeks without pay for writing something for an online-only outlet).

Regardless of where you work, when you are off of the company time and dime, should you be forced to take Ari Fleisher’s advice to Bill Maher and “Watch what you say?” This is especially prevalent in public relations, the field that thousands of us toil in daily. We are seen not only as employees, but due to our profession, representatives of our respective companies. (or as in the case of Mr. Andrews’ Twitter-gate, representative of not only his firm, but also the companies we represent)

As people in PR talk about “Brand You,” the idea that what you write/podcast/etc. is connected to the “you” brand, discussion is moving closer towards the idea that the “you” brand, and the “YOU” brand are interconnected – allowing your employer to connect to and impose upon your online/social media persona. If these two brands are interconnected, then everyone must be careful about what they post, whether privately or for their employer, as the perception is these actions somehow reflect their employer.

On the other side of the equation, corporate America needs to change enough to realize that people are people. They are going to react to things that happen to them. If you watch CNN’s iReport or FoxNews’ YouReport pages, people have taken on the mantle of citizen journalists in a big way, and are reporting news in a pixel instant, because seconds have become too long now. Social media (previously called “new media”) now allow anyone to write anything anytime.

By recognizing the importance and influence of communicating through social media outlets like Twitter, employers will go a long way in providing their companies with the key element it needs to succeed in the social media-sphere: a personality.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? In this new media world of 24-hour iReporting and the all-day media cycle, should PR people be forced to represent their organizations 24-7?

Edit: Peter Himler has a great post, and an interview with Edelman’s Social Media maven Steve Rubel here.

apple, internet, Microsoft, Sony, Technology

moreLife for PC

(RELATED UPDATE:  I have a review of Sony’s Imagination Studio Suite HERE)

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In an interesting turn of events, the post that has given me the most traffic in recent weeks hasn’t been any of my comments about Mayor Chavez (although I did get a spike in traffic from linking to Eye on Albuquerque) or my posts about the Albuquerque Tribune possibly shutting down.

Nope, my biggest traffic getter for the past month and a half has been my call for Apple to release iLife to the PC platform. As I discussed before, Apple can get a decently large piece of the pie from Adobe and Sony if they were to do this, because there are other geeks like me out in the big wide world who wouldn’t mind trying out iLife.

That said, it doesn’t sound like Apple will be doing this anytime soon. So for those people looking for a PC suite of programs that will work in much of the same way that iLife will, I offer the following groups of programs that play well together and give you some integration (although again,one of iLife’s strengths is its incredibly tight integration and smooth workflow between programs, Sony and Adobe can offer similar workflow, however):

Sony Adobe Free/Open Source
Video Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum Premier Elements 4.0 Windows Movie Maker/JahShaka
Music ACID Music Studio and/or Sound Forge Audio Studio Audition or Soundbooth Audacity
Photo PhotoGo or Windows Live Photo Editor Photoshop Elements 6.0 GIMP or Windows Live Photo Editor
Web KompoZer GoLive CS2 (since they have Dreamweaver, they can do something else with this) KompoZer (getting a there here?)

As you see, I also included a column for software that comes with your Windows machine, or that you can get via the Open Source community. These programs, I’ve found, tend to have a little steeper learning curve than some of the Adobe/Sony programs – much less the iLife suite. But it’s like most software programs, once you master them you can do amazing things with them.

I’ve also included a piece of Open Source software in the Web component of the table (at least for Sony and the Open Source columns). KompoZer is a cool software application, built on the Nvu platform – an open source competitor to Dreamweaver or (probably more appropriately) Microsoft Expression Web. iWeb’s strength is still all of the templates that came with it – from what I’ve seen it’s more a matter of different CSS’ for the same WYSIWYG framework templates. A good idea, because people can drag and drop files onto the pages or start typing in the predesignated areas before moving them around.

Adobe should do the same thing with GoLive, add a lot of templates to the software, lower the price or (better yet) bundle the software as part of this package, and make it more accessible to the same market segment that Apple could be gunning for, but hasn’t yet. (More on Dell’s Adobe Elements studio in the next post).

For those of you interested in a PC version of iLife, I hope these help provide you with some of the same enjoyment and utility that I have had working with them – until Apple takes my advice and moves iLife over.